Frank Chen

Frank Chen

instead of buying kitchen items jerry rigging is a great way to diy

I'm trying something new for this newsletter, blog, whatever the hell this is.

Instead of writing about my supper club, I'm just gonna write about shit that I've been reading, doing, and trying, as it pertains to food.

It'll happen twice a week.

in the news

One of my friends sent me this article. The takeaway for me was that shit happens in a pandemic, but not just bad shit. Good fried shit can happen too. Some takeaways:

  1. It doesn't matter how fucking old you are, just do shit that you want to do. You can say 67-year olds don't belong in the food industry, but obviously, you can be an exception to the normal case.
  2. Community matters. Koreatown in Los Angeles is iconic in itself. Would this place survive anywhere else? "Repeat customers" who are culturally in the know make this place a reality. Where is your own community, and are you supporting them?
  3. Fried chicken is a theme that can't be played out. It exists in almost every culture in some form or fashion. Who doesn't like fried chicken?

cooking for the past few months

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm really sick of eating my own cooking during this time. I pretty much know what I'm going to be eating 2-3 days in advance, which sort of makes it hard to be excited about food. Also, I've been lazy as fuck.

Around Thanksgiving, I had decent fun jerry-rigging a mini-grill to be a smoker. Some $15 ceramic enhancements (read: flower pot bottoms wrapped in foil) to block direct heat was all that was needed. This resulted in smoked chicken, smoked baby backs, and barbecue flavor. It was good.

I ran out of charcoal, so the trend stopped. I'm going to start up again, simply because I enjoy figuring out the best way to light charcoal. The first way was just using newspaper. The second, oiled towels. The third, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. The goal really was to avoid creating massive amounts of smoke that would alert the neighbors, thereby alerting our landlords, and getting us kicked out of our apartment for "illegal grilling on the second floor" (but really, no one fucking cares). The mechanism for the third method is quite interesting. Apparently it's a smokeless, waterproof, foolproof way of starting a fire. I heard about it from Steven Rinella of MeatEater fame.

on menu

I've been making mozzarella and sharp cheddar quesadillas with corn tortillas and cilantro. It was inspired by this weird burrito I had in Taiwan where they wrapped pineapple sherbet, crushed peanuts, and cilantro in a flour tortilla. Don't know what it was, but it was so good I got it three times.

Cilantro was also part of it because I have this huge ass batch sitting in my refrigerator for going on a month now, and I just needed a way to start using it. Yes, a month. Stored properly, herbs can last for quite some time. Moisture is your enemy. I wash it all, and then store it in a big tupperware lined with enough towels to wipe butt this entire pandemic.

Anyway, here's how you do it. Put a oiled corn tortilla on a cast iron pan, cheese on, roughly chopped cilantro on, tiny bit of salt, second oiled corn tortilla on top, and press. Flip when you want. Some of the cheese will leak out. Don't worry about it, let it crisp up. It'll provide a "cheese dress" on your quesadilla. It's the best part.

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